Who’s Afraid of Julie Payette?

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  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada and Head of State. The Governor General is the representative of the Queen in Canada. The GG also presides over the swearing-in of the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada and cabinet ministers. It is the governor general who summons, prorogues and dissolves Parliament, who delivers the Speech from the Throne, and who gives Royal Assent to acts of Parliament.

    Nowhere in this definition says that the GG’s role is to deride and insult 36 million Canadians, minus her, and their beliefs, persuasions, faith and culture. On  a Wednesdaynight, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette appeared as keynote speaker at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa. As she gave her speech, she took on everyone from astrologists, naturopaths, and climate-change skeptics to religious people, saying, “And we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process. And so many people — I’m sure you know many of them — still believe, want to believe, that maybe taking a sugar pill will cure cancer, if you will it! And every single one of the people here’s personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations.” The sad fact about it was that she used a mocking tone and a facial expression that would make people think, “What is her problem?”

    What does Payette have against people, in general, since she mocked every person who has a different belief from her? She also implied that only sound scientific thought that only she and her scientific community possess is the only acceptable sound thought, and the rest are grumblings of people with mental illnesses. Is it possible that people still believe that there is a God, and that random things don’t just happen because you cannot create something out of nothing? Is she mocking Fr. Georges Lemaitre, Carl Sagan, and Albert Einstein, who, despite being scientists, actually believe that God has his signature on everything?

    And to her rescue was “Superman” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he defended her for her strength, a person “who has never hidden away her passion for science and her deep faith that knowledge, research and the truth is a foundation for any free, stable, successful society. And I applaud the firmness with which she stands in support of science and the truth.” You see, Mr. Trudeau, everyone understands science, but today’s society has made truth subjective, and that is where Payette should have drawn the line. Her opinion should be unbiased and should be respectful of all beliefs, even if the last person in Canada does not agree with science. This is what her position as GG calls for – objectiveness and steadfastness as she represents the Queen, who, by the way, is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Church of England. An institution that believes in the existence of God. Payette, technically speaking, represents the Church or England as well, so what gives?

    Her defenders have spoken greatly of her indomitable spirit for voicing her opinion, but she should have had her speech checked by spin doctors and people who know when something is offensive. She poked at not only believers in God, but also in believers of different ideals. In my book, that’s disrespectful. I, too, am a scientist, but I am also a logical and philosophical thinker. Is Payette saying I am less of a scientist because I believe in God, as well as the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates side by side the teachings of Newton, Galileo and Copernicus?

    As writer Robyn Urback of CBC News says, “there is a difference between advocating for science and marvelling at the apparent dolts who still believe in horoscopes — or in God, for that matter. In what universe is it appropriate for Canada’s Governor General to do that?” I agree with her. It is never acceptable for a politician, regardless of her beliefs, to mock people. Never.

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